Celebrating Kevin Puts – The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Music

I was delighted to see the announcement that Kevin Puts will receive the Pulitzer Prize in Music this year for his opera "Silent Night", which premiered at the Minnesota Opera last year.  Although I haven't seen or heard this opera, I have become very well acquainted with lots of music by Kevin Puts over the past few years, and I hope that this award will result in many more performances as well as incentivizing some enterprising group to stage the opera in NYC.

I first heard of Mr. Puts when I attended a NY Philharmonic Summertime Classics concert several years ago, at which he enjoyed a premiere of a new piece written for the Philharmonic, conducted by Bramwell Tovey. 

An on-line search at that time did not turn up many opportunities to hear other music by him, but now the assiduous collector can find quite a bit. 

At last count, my recordings collection includes 17 different compositions by Kevin Puts, ranging from works for solo piano through chamber music up to some exciting orchestral compositions. 

My favorite as of now is his Violin Concerto, recorded in Fort Worth at its world premiere by the orchestra's concertmaster and musical director, and released on the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra's own house label, during a time when Kevin Puts was their composer-in-residence.  The same disc also includes his Symphony No. 3, subtitled "Vespertine."  Both are fine works, but the concerto has the edge in terms of originality and emotional weight. 

Another fine orchestral work is "Network," a short tone poem performed by Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony on a disc of American works released by the orchestra on its own label.  (The best place to find lots of interesting new music these days is on artist-run labels.)

From among the chamber music works, I would especially recommend the Three Nocturnes for Clarinet Trio, released recently by the Verdehr Trio as part of their series of commissioned works, "The Making of a Medium." 

Mr. Puts has found a champion in the marimba virtuoso, Nakura, who has recorded several of his works.

I understand from comments on the composer's website that an entire disc of his music is in the works from Naxos, and I hope they will move that along to profit from the publicity generated by the Pulitzer. 

Congratulations to Kevin Puts!  I hope lots of people discover his wonderful music as a result of this prize.

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